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:: Monday, August 08, 2005 ::

Sorry for the quiet..

Work has me really busy, and away from my computer. Add in the fact that I'm working much longer hours, don't have weekends free, and am on a weird schedule (about 2:00 PM to midnight or so), I haven't had time to blog at all.

However, once Discovery lands, I'll share some thoughts about the whole thing. I've spent my entire professional life working for NASA (as a contractor), and I've seen launches, landings, roll-outs and roll-overs, but I haven't ever sat this close to the seat of actual movement.

On Columbia's last mission, I saw the launch on a TV and went back to work (I'm in Houston, not Kennedy). I wasn't needed for support at the time (mostly, I think, because I hadn't gotten all my clearances and access). This time, I've been supporting the mission.

I'm not one of the rocket scientists or engineers who worried about the tiles, or the thermal blankets, or worked out EVAs -- we just wrote some of the tools they use and provide some of the dataflows they need. So we're around, trying to make sure they can spend their time with their issues and not kicking the printers or wondering who to contact about the fact that one of the tools just stopped working.

It's been an interesting two weeks, and I've got to say this much: The professionalism here is outstanding. I got to watch -- close up -- as NASA handled the gap-filler and thermal blanket issues, and it was rather awe-inspiring to see so many people jumping to handle unique situations and come up with not only a thorough assessment of the problem but a list of potential fixes and their associated risks, and do it all in 36 hours.

I was proud to be a part of it, to do my tiny part to make sure those guys -- the important folk doing the real work -- had what they needed.

Whatever happens with the Space Program -- hell, whatever your thoughts on manned spaceflight or government sponsorship -- don't deny them this: There are thousands of people who believe in what they do, and who have been giving heart and soul to make this work.

And their work and professionalism reminds me of why I wanted to work here in the first place. I don't think any 9 to 5 job, no matter how well paying, can compare to working here, and seeing what I've seen.
:: Morat 2:05 PM :: ::

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